Pacific Crest Trail hiking gear — scroll down for biking stuff
(updated August 16th, 2015 with what I actually carried in Washington + some mini-reviews)
PACK: Osprey Aura 50
I’ve had this pack since 2008, when I bought it for my FIRST EVER backpacking trip. I kinda thought I would buy a fancy, new, ultralight pack for my PCT hike, but then I decided to hike NOW and was way less interested in obsessing about gear I hadn’t ever seen in person and way more interested in just going with what worked and getting on the trail. I ended up pretty much hating my pack, though. (This hike was my first hike longer than three days, so I hadn’t given it a real test previously.) Lots of people seem to love the mesh back panel thing, but I found that I just really wanted my pack hugging my back and shoulders, and I couldn’t make this pack do that. No matter how I adjusted the straps, my shoulders ached if I was carrying more than a day of food and half a liter of water.
I HAVE SINCE REPLACED THIS: I bought a Six Moon Designs Fusion 65 (the closeout 2014 version). I LOVE IT.
TENT: Zpacks Duplex
I’ve been really happy with this tent. It’s lightweight, well-designed, and very roomy (even with two people). The only complaint I have is the complaint I knew I’d have: condensation! There was one night when it rained and we battened down all the hatches, which was a mistake. Leaving even one door flap open makes a huge difference in the amount of condensation. That said, the bathtub floor and the mesh all around the edge under the ceiling work great. The floor has never been the least bit wet. Pitching the tent well takes a bit of practice, but it’s not too difficult. I did add line-locks to all the guylines, and I strongly recommend that. Pitching it would be 100x more annoying without the line-locks.
STAKES: titanium V-stakes from Zpacks
Plus 2 regular old shepherd’s hook stakes borrowed from my old REI dome tent, ’cause I broke a stake the very first time I tried to pitch my tent and figured I should have at least one extra. I’ve since bent another stake enough that I avoid using that stake, and dented the end of yet another. Maybe I’m especially hard on stakes? Maybe titanium stakes, even tough-looking v-stakes, are not for me.
I HAVE SINCE REPLACED THESE: MSR Mini Groundhogs are the bomb diggity.
I recently this great idea online where someone’s friends wrote all over their hiker friend’s Tyvek groundsheet with a Sharpie, so they’d be reminded of them and get some encouragement every time they look at it. Mine was just plain ol’ plain Tyvek, but I think this idea is amazing and everyone should use it. Make decorated groundsheets for your hiker friends!
SLEEPING BAG: Zpacks 10-degree bag
“Regular” length, “Wide” width. Light, packable, ultra-cozy. I love the hoodless sorta-quilt design. I used to sleep in/under my old mummy bag with the zipper underneath me and the hood bunched up around my neck anyway. The Zpacks bag fits my sleeping habits and is oh-so comfy and warm. Very happy. I pack it in the included cuben dry bag.
PILLOW: Goosefeet Gear pillow
Size medium, with the stuffsack pocket and one ounce of down. It’s PURPLE. It’s a nice, functional size, weighs less than two ounces (in theory; I haven’t actually weighed it), packs up tiny with my sleeping bag, and with my puffy jacket stuffed into the stuffsack pocket it’s very comfortable.
SLEEPING PAD: Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm
Comfortable, warm, reasonably light and compact, and annoying to inflate. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Backup says it does make crinkly sounds when I roll over at night. I packed it in the included pump sack at first but sent the sack home from Stehekin ’cause it was marginally faster and less annoying to just blow it up, plus I figured I could save an ounce or two that way. (Oh, if you can find it, and you’re average-lady-sized like me, pick up a “medium”-sized one. It’s only 66″ instead of 72″, so you save a lil’ bit of weight but still get a full-length pad.)
SHORTS: Icebreaker Pace Shorts
Super comfortable merino wool “compression” (i.e. form-fitting. No actual compression involved) shorts WITH adequate length and WITHOUT bells and whistles (zippers, drawstrings, other nonsense). They don’t ride up, they prevent thigh chafing, and they’re merino which gets slightly less gross than other fabrics with continued wear. I carried two pairs.
T-SHIRT: Icebreaker Cool-lite Sphere T-Shirt
Icebreaker’s new merino + tencel fabric is pretty great. Soft, light, and comfy, and the merino content keeps it from getting too stinky. Still in pretty good shape after over a month of wear.
BRA: Patagonia Barely Bra
Bought this on a whim right before I left for the trail. I brought a tried-and-true bra along as well (an Icebreaker Sprite Racerback), but sent it home from Stehekin. The Patagonia bra is more comfortable and a bit more flattering as well.
SKIRT: Purple Rain Adventure Skirt
Lemme tell you about the awesome pockets on this thing. First you have big patch pockets on both sides, big enough for an iPhone 6 or maps or whatever else you want easy access to. Then, on top of those pockets, you’ve got pockets with velcro flaps over ’em for stuff you want to keep a little more secure. I kept my long-distance permit in one of those. The skirt is very comfortable, with a wide stretchy waistband that I like to wear high, at my natural waist. I am a big fan. 100% recommend. Made in Oregon! Mine does need a bit of repair at the corners of the pocket I kept my phone in.
GAITERS: Dirty Girl Gaiters
Ubiquitous on the trail for a reason. They’re great. Mine are space print.
SOCKS: Injinji Run 2.0 Original Weight Mini-Crew
Two pairs: one synthetic, one “nu-wool” with merino. The merino pair got holes first. I love Injinji socks. Very comfortable. I got NO BLISTERS in Washington which I think speaks for itself. The mini-crews are only barely tall enough, though, and sometimes I get hot spots on my heels when they slip down a bit too much.
SLEEPING SOCKS: Defeet Wooleator Socks
LEGGINGS: Black Milk space-print leggings
I brought these mostly because they’re good for morale, but they actually turned out to be not a bad choice. They’re well-made, don’t sag or get loose even after days of wear, and dry remarkably quickly. I also got a lot of compliments on them.
FLEECE: Melanzana Micro-Grid Hoodie
Cozy ‘n’ purple. Nice and warm. I wore it all the time on the trail.
HAT: Headsweats Women’s Race Cap
Smaller than other baseball-style caps, which means it doesn’t rest on the temple pieces of my glasses and irritate my ears. Kept the sun or rain out of my eyes. I don’t know how anyone gets by without a brimmed hat, honestly.
OTHER HAT: Nau merino + tencel beanie.
It’s long so I can double it up around my ears and/or pull it down below them for extra warmth. Lightweight but cozy.
Worn mostly around my neck, sometimes as a headband. Soak it in water and squeeze it out for on-the-go air conditioning.
GLOVES: Icebreaker liner gloves & nitrile exam gloves
DOWN JACKET: Mountain Hardwear Whisper Peak Jacket
Basically the same stats as the Ghost Whisperer, but inexplicably an ounce heavier. And, um, it came in better colors. Also, it was on sale (but so was the Ghost Whisperer, so really it was all about the color). ANYWAY, it’s comfortable and warm.
RAIN JACKET: Marmot Precip
Eventually wets through, but so will anything. If I had my druthers I’d get something lighter (maybe the Marmot Essence) or something longer.
RAIN SKIRT: MYOG
I made it out of one yard of cuben fiber and some velcro. It kinda works. Should really be longer.
SHOES: Altra Lone Peak 2.0
Just like all the hikers who aren’t wearing Brooks Cascadias. I am pretty happy with them. They fit very similarly to the 1.5s I hiked in for a year (though I had to buy a half size bigger). My first pair lasted me about 450 miles.
LATER NOTE: I don’t like the 2.5s quite as much but they’re still better than any other option. Sizing is weird and inconsistent between different versions. I bought a pair of the mid-top 3.0s for winter hiking and they’re also okay. I miss the 2.0s and 1.5s, honestly.
STOVE: Snow Peak Litemax
Light and tiny. Pretty fuel-efficient. Boiling water takes a while (at least compared to Backup’s MSR Reactor), but it works. No complaints.
POT: Toaks Titanium 800mL Pot
SPOON: Toaks Titanium Long-Handled Spoon with Polished Bowl
Oh spoon, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 1: Your long handle allows me to reach into bags, pots, and other containers without getting food all over my hands. 2: Your polished bowl is easy to lick clean. 3: The flat edge on your bowl makes getting into the corners and scraping out the last bits of food a piece of cake. Maybe my favorite piece of gear.
CUP: Snow Peak Double Wall Titanium 450mL
I eat out of it, drink out of it, scoop water up from tiny streams and springs with it. The double-wall is a luxury, but I like it a lot.
BEAR PROTECTION: Ursack & Opsak… and some cord
No complaints about the Ursak, though it hasn’t really been tested by a bear. My Opsak ripped much sooner than expected, and was held together with duct tape for a while. The closure also no longer felt particularly secure by the time we got off trail. In the future I’ll expect the Opsaks to hold up for 200ish miles, I think. I also brought 50 feet of cord and never used it. I gave it to Backup.
FILTER: Sawyer Mini
Tiny, with no moving parts. The flow is slow and gets slower. I backflushed with hot water in town and as needed between towns, using a Smartwater “sports cap,” which happened to fit neatly over the filter output nozzle thingy. This worked okay. In Trout Lake we met a hiker who recommended bangin’ the filter on something while backflushing. This moved around the gunk enough to actually get it out. Wish we’d known that trick earlier! A couple weeks in, Backup started setting his Sawyer Mini up as a gravity system, using a tube he hacked out of his Camelbak. I got envious and bought a tube too. Gravity system = no squeezing (less chance of bursting your bottle), less impatience (still takes a while, but you can do other things while it’s filtering).
I HAVE SINCE REPLACED THIS: Just get the regular Sawyer Squeeze. You won’t regret the extra ounce.
I brought these as backup, but I ended up using the Aquamira drops a lot, instead of filtering. It took just five minutes to mix the two parts together, and then I could dump it in my water and keep hiking.
BOTTLES: Smartwater, Evernew & Platypus
My Evernew bag, which I was using as my dirty bag with my filter, eventually started leaking around the mouth, but I was able to keep using it as a gravity system (see above).
PHONE: iPhone 6
Communication device, information repository, GPS, notebook, e-book reader, etc.
NAVIGATION: Halfmile’s & Guthook’s apps
We used Guthook 90% of the time. You can download topos and see the trail overlaid on top. Easier to use and more versatile than Halfmile. But hey, Halfmile is free. Both of these apps are awesome to have. I carried paper Halfmile maps as well and pretty much never looked at them.
POWER: Anker E5 external USB battery
I had trouble early on with this thing not charging my phone unless it was also charging Backup’s phone (???), but it hasn’t given me any problems since. I never ran it down all the way on the trail, so it’s probably overkill. Weighs ten ounces or something. Could be worse.
CABLES ETC: Lightning cable, micro USB cable, wall wart
HEADLAMP: Black Diamond ReVolt
CAMERA: Canon EOS M & EyeFi wifi SD card
The camera is pretty all right. I use a 22mm (~35mm effective) prime lens. It’s smaller than a DSLR, cheaper than a Fuji mirrorless system, and has decent manual controls (all-auto point-and-shoots bum me out). The EyeFi card and their Mobi Pro app worked pretty well to get photos onto my phone, and I was been able to include photos in my blog without much hassle, which is great. I carried one extra battery and the battery charger, but I never actually ran down an entire battery between town stops. I usually waited till I was in town to transfer photos, though, ’cause that burns down the battery super fast.
APPS USED in the creation of my blog posts, by the way:
Notes (as in the default app that came on your iPhone, yep; I typed up entries here)
Mobi Pro (for syncing photos as mentioned)
VSCO Cam (to add a little je ne sais quoi)
Resize Image (to make photos blog-sized. Interface isn’t great, but it worked okay)
WordPress (for actual posting. This app sucks and is buggy. I pasted in my entry, uploaded my photos, and then fixed the messy formatting in the html edit view)
WATCH: Soleus something?
Cheap and functional. Pink!
PERSONAL LOCATOR BEACON: ACR ResQLink
I chose this one because according to my research it’s the one most likely to actually work when you really need it to (see this article), it doesn’t have a subscription fee, and I don’t want my loved ones to expect messages from me (like they might if I had a Spot or DeLorme) and freak out when they don’t get them. Haven’t tested it yet, thank goodness.
BANDANA: a bandana
I might replace this with a very small pack towel on future hikes.
PEE RAG: another bandana
Read here if you’re grossed out / confused.
TROWEL: Deuce of Spades
Works okay and weighs almost nothing. I can’t imagine digging a decent hole without a trowel of some sort.
TOILETRIES: in a Granite Gear ditty bag — toothbrush, toothpaste, chamois cream, tea tree oil, and zinc oxide diaper cream all in tiny little bottles and tubes; sunscreen in a bigger tube; lip balm; baby wipes, witch hazel wipes, and TP in every resupply
FIRST AID & REPAIR KIT: in another Granite Gear ditty bag — ibuprofen, antihistamine, Immodium, Sudafed, band-aids, tiny Neosporin packets, tiny antifungal packets, sterile gauze, Leukotape, duct tape, Tenacious Tape, cuben tape, a tiny tube of Krazy Glue, dental floss, a needle, safety pins, the patch kit for my Thermarest
KNIFE: Leatherman Juice CS4
FIRE STARTER: Bic lighter, little fire steel and sparker thingy
I used this a couple of times in town to label things I left in the hiker bin. Not sure I really needed it.
SMALL NOTEBOOK & PEN
WALLET (w/cash, cards, a couple folded checks)
TREKKING POLES: Leki Carbonlites
I can’t imagine hiking with a pack without trekking poles. These ones have held up surprisingly well. Nice and light. I got them on sale (they say DEMO in big letters down the shaft, so I’m guessing I don’t get a warranty), but I might not buy them again if given the choice. The twist locks are okay but not great; I hear flick locks are where it’s at.
Sierra-Cascades cycling gear
a bunch of the stuff listed above, plus…
BIKE: my beloved custom Sweetpea touring bike that I rode cross-country in 2010. Bought with insurance settlement money after I was hit by a car while biking home from work in 2008. Mountain triple gearing, bar-end shifters, flat pedals (for the win), Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, well-worn Brooks saddle, extra padding under the bar tape.
REAR RACK: Tubus something-or-other. Bought for my cross-country ride; still in great shape.
PANNIERS & HANDLEBAR BAG: Ortlieb. Rear panniers borrowed from my dad — mine went missing in a move a few years ago.
CLOTHING: an extra t-shirt (what luxury!), two pairs of Pearl Izumi shorts, a cycling cap, bike gloves, rain pants, sneakers, probably a sarong (a great multi-purpose item I wish I could justify carrying while hiking).
HELMET: Bell something-or-other.
MIRROR: an absolute necessity for touring, I think. Mine is the “Take A Look Cyclist Mirror,” but any of ’em would probably do.
Hey… Thanks for the link to my “PLB vs SPOT” article on my blog. And I wish you a safe journey on your PCT hike.